Number of Reviews: 3
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Phagocytosis, July 14, 2019
I did not in any way participate in or follow the 2017 IF Comp, so I had never heard of The Dragon Will Tell You Your Future Now, the game to which Re: Dragon is a sort of unofficial 'sequel' -- if that's the right word, which it almost certainly is not. But since Welch's game is quite insistent about our playing that 2017 game first, I decided to do so. Given how low it placed in the competition, The Dragon Will Tell You Your Future Now is surprisingly fun. I especially liked the way that it goes from 'ominous' (better watch out, if I make the wrong choice I'll be killed, that owl is out to get me) to utterly zany (let's try a flying ninja kick by first ricocheting off of the opposite wall, the shocked expression of the owl be damned). The fact that you can't open the door is... yes, unsatisfying, but that is part of the deal. Not a great game, but certainly not bad.
This means that I entirely sympathise with Welch's wish to rehabilitate the 2017 game through his own 2018 game, which puts it in an entirely new context and thereby gives everything in it an entirely new meaning. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. I love it. (My own game Nemesis Macana contains a long non-interactive essay in which the fictional author gives a bizarre sex-obsessed reinterpretation of a whole series of famous IF games. Very different from Re: Dragon in form and tone, and yet, there's some underlying similarity.) Of course, this is also why the 2018 game is not really a sequel to the 2017 game. A better image would be that of phagocytosis: Re: Dragon eats up The Dragon Will Tell You Your Future Now and incorporates it, turning it into something else in the process. You can never read the original work again in the same way.
As a game, it's quite enjoyable. I especially liked the weird e-mails we got as a competition organiser, and if there's one thing I was disappointed about, it was that the e-mail interface sort of stopped being relevant as soon as you got to the choice-based dragon story. It could have been a lot of fun if weird mail had kept coming in, and perhaps also some mail based on the choices we make in the story. Now the two parts of Re: Dragon feel a little disconnected.
Still, playing through it was a good time. I'm not sure the final story makes complete sense -- it certainly doesn't seem to fit all the fictional details of the 2017 game -- but that's fine, since it is in keeping with the essential zaniness of the original. Re: Dragon wants to be fun, and it is fun.
(Though one thing was, alas, missing: a cameo by Stiffy Makane!)